The Cold Start Problem for Products

Recently I was talking to an entrepreneur about his Software-as-a-Service company and he was excited that this new company didn’t suffer from the cold start problem he had previously. Not having heard this term before, I asked him to explain it to me. The cold start problem is when someone tries out a new product, like an accounting system, and there’s little real work they can do until significant integration is done (chart of accounts, import data, etc). Other products, like Rigor’s web performance management system, don’t have a cold start problem because you can turn it on and start getting value right away.

Here are a few ideas to consider if you have a cold start problem:

  • Include high quality demo or test data so that users can experience something of meaning without doing a big integration
  • Consider having client implementation coordinators on-board new customers to ensure that clients get real value as soon as possible
  • Implement a wizard that walks the user through getting started in a way that they get small wins and have a clear picture of next steps

Some products inherently have a cold start problem and that’s normal. Knowing that it’s a challenge, it’s best addressed in a sustainable, strategic manner.

What else? What are your thoughts on the cold start problem for products?

One thought on “The Cold Start Problem for Products

  1. We make an infrastructure automation product for REST APIs and faced a similar issue. Our system needs to be tied into the customer’s applications and/or data sources before it’s useful from a business perspective.

    We have an example system but another thing we’ve also been doing is writing scripts to generate demo data that is similar to the type of data the customer will use. We may even integrate that functionality into the core product if it continues to be popular.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s